Coming off of an exciting 21-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, the New York Giants stand at 6-3 and are in firm playoff position. The road to the postseason will get even wider over the next few weeks, as the Giants’ schedule contains a few easy matchups in a row.
One of those so-called easy matchups will take place on Sunday when the Chicago Bears come to town. The Bears are a shell of their former selves, only sitting at 2-7. They have failed to step forward this year, as was expected of them.
The game will kick off at 1:00 at MetLife Stadium and can be seen on FOX.
New York Giants: Offense
Against Cincinnati last week, the Giants finally got the running game going. Rashad Jennings burst out in the fourth quarter, and the Giants totaled over 100 rushing yards for only the third time all season. The sudden success on the ground allowed Eli Manning more freedom on offense, which led to a balanced attack.
Manning has thrown more interceptions than expected this season, but he finally has a complete offense at the helm now, meaning the interceptions should go down. Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz could use big games to take the pressure off of Odell Beckham Jr., who has been white-hot in the chilly month of November.
The Giants’ offensive line has only allowed 12 sacks on the year, and they will face a tough task in the Bears’ front-seven. If the O-Line can continue to give Manning just enough time to find his favorite targets, the Giants will continue to rack up points.
Chicago Bears: Offense
The Bears’ offense has been ravaged by injuries and suspensions this season. Quarterback Jay Cutler is the same as ever: for every good play he makes, he makes a boneheaded mistake on the next down. Cutler also missed time this year with a thumb injury earlier in the season.
Cutler’s main weapon had been big wideout Alshon Jeffrey, but Jeffrey was just handed a 4-game suspension for use of an illegal performance-enhancing drug. In his stead, tight end Zach Miller and receivers Eddie Royal and Cameron Meredith will get targets.
Running back Jeremy Langford is back from injury, but he may have lost his starting spot to bruising rookie Jordan Howard. Howard has been a rare bright spot for the Bears this season, rushing for over 600 yards and a 5.0 average. He will be a tough test for the Giants’ front-seven.
New York Giants: Defense
One of the major stories of the 2016 Giants season has been the play of the defense. After a slow start, the defense is forcing turnovers left and right, led by back-to-back NFC Defensive Player of the Week Landon Collins, who has accumulated 4 interceptions, 3.0 sacks, and a team-leading 74 tackles.
The pass rush has been reinvigorated recently, led by expensive linemen Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul. The duo has been a thorn in opposing quarterbacks’ sides. Even the Giants’ linebackers have stepped up lately, missing less tackles than usual.
The major key for the Giants on defense? They are the NFL’s best red zone defenders, only allowing an opponent to score a touchdown on 41.9 percent of their red zone entries. If the defense can keep limiting opponents’ points by bending but not breaking, the Giants will surely pick up another win.
Chicago Bears: Defense
For a team once known for its fierce defense, the Bears have been a disappointment on the defensive side of the ball in recent years. However, that tide is beginning to change. After all, this is a team that limited the Minnesota Vikings to just 10 points and forced 7 punts just two weeks ago.
First round draft pick Leonard Floyd already has 5.0 sacks, including 4.5 in his last 3 games. He teams with Pernell McPhee, Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman, and Willie Young to form a solid group of linebackers.The defensive line has also been good at getting pressure this year, with Akiem Hicks leading the way with 4.0 sacks all his own.
The weak link for the Bears though, lies in the secondary. The team has no true shutdown corner, which could bode well for the Giants’ group of wideouts. The safeties have also been inconsistent for the Bears, allowing many big plays. If the Giants’ receivers can get free in coverage, they’ll be in line for a win.
New York Giants: Special Teams
Kicker Robbie Gould has only attempted 1 kick as a member of the Giants, but his name will surely be mentioned often on Sunday; he will face his old teammates for the first time since being cut earlier this season. Return man Dwayne Harris could be limited with a toe injury, which would allow Bobby Rainey or Beckham Jr. the chance to run back more kicks.
Chicago Bears: Special Teams
Gould’s replacement, Connor Barth, has missed 3 kicks so far this season, but is usually a solid kicker. Punter Pat O’Donnell has good hang time on his kicks, and return men Deonte Thompson and Eddie Royal are threats to go the distance.
The Giants have the edge in most every category with this matchup. If the Giants truly are a playoff team, they simply must win the games that they are supposed to win, which includes Sunday’s contest.
30-17 Giants (Record picking Giants games: 7-2).